How to Clean Discolored Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

How to Clean Discolored Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Stainless steel is essential kitchen cookware. They are practical, convenient, durable, and appealing. However, they tend to lose their attractiveness due to improper usage and over usage of the utensil.

Stainless steel pans and pots conduct heat, which makes them a must-have in the kitchen. There are numerous types of stainless steel. Proper care of these pots and pans can add longevity.

Stainless steel pans and pots quickly obtain burnt marks, stuck-on food, and discoloration. Cleaning and maintaining the pans as a burnt pan or discolored pan could be harmful to your health.

It is essential to clean stainless steel pans regularly to avoid burnt marks and discoloration. It is crucial to know how you can take good care of the pans to prevent discoloration and increase your stainless steel pans’ life span.

This article will discuss the causes of discoloration of stainless steel pans, different methods to clean the discolored pans. We will also discuss the mistakes people make while washing and maintaining the stainless steel pan.

Lastly, we will shed light upon different tips to maintain stainless steel pans for better cooking results.

What causes discoloration in stainless steel pans?

Stainless steel pans quickly obtain black spots or discoloration due to regular usage. These pans have numerous benefits, which make them essential cookware in the kitchen. However, excessive use causes black spots on the stainless steel cookware.

They also obtain discoloration while using them in the kitchen daily. Let us discuss the reasons that cause discoloration and black spots, making the pans look unattractive.

Reason 1

When using stainless steel pan for cooking delicious meals, our pans get exposed to high-low heat. This technique may seem very basic to many cooks, but it is essential to understand that discoloration in stainless steel pans occurs due to high heat. To avoid your pan from discoloration, you mustn’t expose it to high heat.

Reason 2:

Using cooking sprays over pans leaves a sticky surface. This sticky surface starts layering up and deteriorates the surface of your pan. They also darken the surface of stainless steel pans. It is advisable to clean your pan thoroughly after every use to avoid layering up oils on your pan’s surface.

How can you clean your discolored stainless steel pans?

How Can You Clean Your Discolored Stainless Steel Pans with vinegar

People often complain about the discoloration of their stainless steel pans. They manage to save their pans from burnt marks, food sticking on the surface.

However, discoloration of the stainless steel pan due to high heat is one of the things that is unavoidable.

It is essential to clean your stainless steel pans from burnt marks and discoloration. Here are five very effective methods to clean discolored pans.

Using Vinegar to Remove Discoloration

Vinegar is a very effective ingredient to fight tough stains. It also helps to get rid of stains from stainless steel pans.

Things you need:

  • Vinegar
  • Water


There are two ways of cleaning a discolored pan using vinegar. You can directly wash your pan with vinegar and rinse it with water.

The other method to remove discoloration is by making a mixture of vinegar and water. Take your pan, add a three-fourth cup of water and one-fourth cup of vinegar, and bring it to a boil. Let the mixture cool down, and then wash the pan thoroughly.  

Using Dish Soap and Baking Soda to Remove Discoloration

Baking soda is another very effective ingredient to get rid of stubborn stains from a pan. Making a mixture of dish soap and baking soda helps remove tough stains leaving your pan clean and shiny.

Things you need:

  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Paper towel
  • Soft cloth


Make a mixture of dish soap and baking soda. Apply it thoroughly on the pan using a soft cloth. Rub the mixture on the pan with a light hand. Make sure you do not use harsh chemicals on stainless steel pans. Do not scrub the pan with steel wool or wire brushes.

Once you have rubbed the mixture on the affected parts, rinse the pan thoroughly. Dry it with a paper towel.

Steam Cleaning the Pan to Remove Discoloration

Another method to clean a discolored pan is by exposing it to steam.

Things you need:

  • Hot water          
  • Paper towel


Heat water in a kettle with a spout so you can easily pour boiling water into your stainless steel pan. Cover the affected area of your stainless steel pan with a paper towel. Pour boiling water on the paper towel until it is thoroughly wet.

Let the boiling water sit for five to ten minutes. The steam of the water will loosen up the tough stains. Once the pan’s surface has cooled down, gently rub it with a paper towel to remove discoloration.

Using Tomato Sauce to Remove Discoloration

Tomato sauce removes tough stains easily. You can use the leftover tomato sauce to shine your discolored stainless steel pan. The acidity in tomato sauce fights with tough stains, making your pan cleaner.

Things you need:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Water (if required)


Pour tomato sauce or crushed tomato in a pan to completely cover the discolored area—Cook the sauce for ten minutes. Add water if needed. Once the sauce has simmered, remove the pan from the stove. Throw the sauce and rinse the pan.

You may also leave tomato sauce in your pan overnight if you do not want to simmer it.

Using Salt and Lime to Remove Discoloration

Salt and lime are two surprisingly effective ingredients that have exceptional qualities to remove your stainless steel pan’s discoloration. The acidity in lime helps remove discoloration from the pan, whereas salt helps to loosen it.  

Things you need:

  • Salt
  • Lime


Squeeze a lime in your stainless steel pan. Sprinkle some salt. Let the mixture rest for some time. Add more salt to the mixture. Start scrubbing the mixture using a non-abrasive sponge. Once the pan is free from tough stains, rinse it thoroughly and dry it.

Major Mistakes People Make While Cleaning Stainless Steel Pans

Stainless steel pans are everyday cookware in every kitchen. They are great to use for numerous reasons. However, these great pans lose their attractiveness over time. Following are five major mistakes that people often make while cleaning and maintaining stainless steel pans and pots.

Washing the Pan Before it has Cooled

It is harmful when you expose your hot pan to cold water. It cracks the pan. It is also detrimental for you since the temperature difference can burn your hands. Allow the pan to cool down before you wash it.

Not Drying the Pan Properly

Hand drying pots is a significant step to remove water spots from the stainless steel pans. It takes only a minute to dry a pan but turns out to be very effective in avoiding discoloration and rusting.

Using Steel Wool

Although steel wools are great for cleaning tough stains, it is harmful to scrub your pans with them as they can roughen the pan’s surface. It would be best not to use steel wool to eliminate black spots on stainless steel cookware.

Using Abrasive Cleaners

Often discoloration in stainless steel pans occurs due to high heat. To remove it from the surface of the pan, you can use dish soaps. Many people use abrasive detergents to get rid of stains. This is harmful to the surface of the pans. You must use products that are not harmful but very effective to clean hard stains that settle on your cookware.

Do Not Depend on your Dishwasher

Although stainless steel pans are dishwasher-safe, a dishwasher can quickly wear off your pans. Exposing stainless steel pans to long washing cycles can damage their surface.

How to Maintain your Stainless Steel Pans?

Maintaining a stainless steel pan is very important. You would not want to use a dirty, stained pan for cooking. It can be harmful to expose the pans to high heat after discoloration. This makes the stains settle on the surface, making it difficult to get rid of them.

A clean and shiny pan looks attractive and is easy to maintain. Once you have gotten rid of tough stains and scratches, it is time to focus on retaining the pans to not lose their shine. Proper care and maintenance can help you maintain the luster and attractiveness of your pan. It keeps the pan safe from corrosion.

With little effort, you can turn your stainless steel pans as shiny as new. Let us help you with some easy-to-do tips to keep your pans clean and shiny.

  • Clean your pan with non-abrasive detergents.
  • Do not scrub the pan with steel wools. Steel wool can leave scratches on the surface and damage the shine of your pan.
  • Do not wash your pots with cold water. It damages the surface leaving cracks on the bottom of the pan. Wash your stainless steel pans with warm water and a sponge.
  • Use wooden spoons to avoid scratching the surface of the pan.
  • Always dry your pans before placing them in the cabinets. It prevents water spots from settling on the pans.
  • Never add cold foods to your stainless steel pans. Always defrost your food or bring it to room temperature before you start cooking.
  • Always let the water boil before you add salt to it. Add salt to cold water will allow the salt to settle on the bottom of the surface, leaving pits on the pans.
  • Do not overheat oil in a stainless steel pan. Overheating oils leave burnt stains on the pans that are difficult to remove. You can soak the pan overnight in a soapy water solution to get rid of burnt stains.


Stainless steel pans are popular for numerous benefits. There are easy to maintain if not stained. They are shiny and seem attractive. Maintaining a stainless steel pan is not difficult. At times, discoloration of stainless steel pans occurs due to high heat or settling oil on the surface.

It is essential to clean a stainless steel pan when it discolors. Since it is resistant to heat, it wears out easily. This is why it is crucial to clean a discolored stainless steel pan to retain its shine and appearance. 

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